The Small Word Issue

There are many symptoms of dyslexia that can be perplexing for parents of dyslexics; one of the most prominent is a child’s difficulty with small words. In my work as a dyslexia tutor, I often have exasperated parents ask me why their children can be smoothly reading a sentences with fairly complex words, and then stumble when they come across a small word such as “for”. Difficulty with small words is an extremely common symptom of dyslexia, and in fact, it’s a symptom that that will often resurface, even when a child is receiving dyslexia tutoring and making progress. There are still many mysteries as to how the dyslexic mind perceives language, and the cause of this difficulty will probably remain a mystery until the brain sciences find an explanation.

The important thing to realize is that this symptom is normal, and it does not mean that the dyslexic child is being lazy or regressing with their reading skills; it is simply a normal occurence for dyslexics that pops up from time to time. Even with my tutoring students who are quite advanced and read quite fluently, short words can still prove to be problematic from time to time. If you are reading with a dyslexic child and they find themselves struggling with a small word, encourage them to apply the knowledge that they are gaining from tutoring and sound the word out. I gave the example of the word “for” in the previous paragraph; if a child stumbles with this word, as them to tell you what the letter “F” says. Once they tell you what “F” says, ask them to tell you the sound that “OR” makes. Then, have them put the sounds together. By constantly encouraging the right approach to words, you can help a dyslexic child become more confident and accurate with their reading.

Peter

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